Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party/Freedom Democratic Party
ChairpersonLawrence Guyot[1]
Vice ChairpersonFannie Lou Hamer
Founded1964 (1964)
Dissolved1968 (1968)
Merged intoMississippi Democratic Party
HeadquartersJackson, Mississippi
IdeologyDesegregation
Progressivism
Social democracy
Political positionCenter-left
National affiliationDemocratic Party
Colors     Blue

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), also referred to as the Freedom Democratic Party, was an American political party created in 1964 as a branch of the populist Freedom Democratic organization in the state of Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. It was organized by African Americans and whites from Mississippi to challenge the established power of the Mississippi Democratic Party, which at the time allowed participation only by whites, when African-Americans made up 40% of the state population.

Origins

In Mississippi African Americans were persuaded away from registering and voting by means of intimidation, harassment, terror, and confusingly complicated literacy tests.[2] They had been limited from participation in the political system since 1890 by passage that year of a new state constitution, and by the practices of the ruling white Democrats in the decades since, with participation in the state Democratic Party limited to whites.[3] Starting in 1961, SNCC and COFO had waged campaigns to register black voters.

In June 1963, African Americans attempted to cast votes in the Mississippi primary election but were prevented from doing so. This contest to determine Democratic candidates was essentially the only competitive race, as the state was a one-party jurisdiction. Unable to vote in the official election, an alternative "Freedom Ballot" for an election to take place at the same time as the scheduled November voting. With this election seen as a protest action to dramatize the denial of their constitutional voting rights, close to 80,000 people cast freedom ballots for an integrated slate of candidates.[4] In response, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Bob Moses,[5] founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964. As a result, they encountered violent opposition included activists being intimidated with church, home, and business burnings and bombings, beatings, and arrests of blacks.[6]

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